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Camp Bestival back in da Bank

The fate of Camp Bestival, the family-focussed camping event run by Rob and Josie de Bank, is apparently secure following an arrangement with promoters Live Nation-Gaiety and SJM Concerts.

The festival, founded in 2008 and held at Lulworth Castle in Dorset on the south coast of the UK, was forced into administration last month. But a statement by the couple posted on the festival’s website earlier today reads:

“With the help of Live Nation-Gaiety and SJM we will really be able to bring more of our creative vision to life with the support structure needed going forward. Our aim has been and will always be to create the best ever family festival. We look forward to sharing this new chapter with you. More news very shortly.”

Adminstrators Begbies Traynor last week confirmed to the BBC that it had completed a sale to Richmond Group, which offered £1.1m for the Bestival group of companies. Richmond, a company controlled by loans tycoon James Benamor, had stated that it would continue to run Camp Bestival moving forward.

That stake appears to have been taken over by Live Nation-Gaiety.

“We will…be able to bring more of our creative vision to life with the support structure needed going forward”

A Live Nation spokesperson tells IQ: “LN-Gaiety and SJM look forward to working with Rob and Josie on Camp Bestival”, although would not go into further details on the arrangement.

The new interest in Camp Bestival adds at least one more UK festival to Live Nation-Gaiety’s portfolio that includes Reading, Leeds, Wireless, Download, Lovebox, Wilderness, Isle of Wight & Parklife.

The news is an unexpected turn of events given that Rob da Bank co founded the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), which has traditionally been opposed to Live Nation’s increasing dominance in the festival space. In August, the association called on the Competition and Markets Authority to investigate Live Nation, which it claims owns over 25% of the market.

The fate of the da Bank’s larger annual event, Bestival – which relocated from the Isle of Wight to the same site as Camp Bestival last year – remains unclear.

This summer saw Bestival (2-5 August) host artists including London Grammar, Silk City, M.I.A & Grace Jones. Camp Bestival’s (25-28 July) line up included Rick Astley, Clean Bandit & Orbital, although the final day was cancelled due to bad weather.


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Closing day of Camp Bestival shut down due to bad weather

Camp Bestival organisers were “devastated and heartbroken” yesterday (29 June) after making the decision to cancel the final day of the festival after adverse weather conditions prompted concerns over safety.

Despite having enjoyed a prolonged summer heatwave, weather in the UK turned over the weekend, with torrential rain and gale-force winds battering the 30,000 capacity festival site at Lulworth Castle, Dorset. Conditions caused tents to flood and all stages were shut down by the team, amid health and safety concerns for artists, staff and guests.

Some guests tweeted about the state of their camping equipment, after the weather took hold:

The cancellation early on Sunday morning meant all acts billed for the day were unable to play. Sunday headliners Simple Minds tweeted their disappointment at the news, saying they were “very sorry to announce” that they would not be performing.

Campsites remained open after the announcement was made, with organisers inviting guests to stay for the remainder of the weekend if they wished. Toilets, showers and traders also remained open. For those who wanted out, extra taxis were laid on to ferry people off site.

In response to the cancellation, organisers of Camp Bestival have already announced they will be following up with their ticket refund policy. Responding to festivalgoers on Twitter, organisers said refunds would be issued as quickly as possible.

“This has been such a tough decision but the safety of all you guys, the families, kids and our working staff has to be of paramount importance.”

Festivalgoers who opted for this year’s new cashless system adopted by Camp Bestival and its ‘big sister’ Bestival are also now able to ‘cash out’ online for the next seven days. Users are advised not throw away their wristbands until the funds have reached their bank accounts.

Despite the disappointment felt all round, organisers still reported Camp Bestival 2018, the eleventh year of the family festival, the best in the event’s history. A statement discussing the cancellation reads: “We have had the best three days in Camp Bestival’s history, it’s been our greatest ever show with all our favourite performers, shows, stages, and artists which we have thoroughly enjoyed sharing with you all.

“You are by far the best festival audience and we love you dearly. This has been such a tough decision but the safety of all you guys, the families, kids and our working staff has to be of paramount importance.”


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Bestival “devastated” after woman dies at new Dorset event

Bestival organisers have said they are “devastated” after a 25-year-old woman was found dead at last weekend’s festival, its first at Lulworth castle in Dorset.

The death of Louella Fletcher-Michie in the early hours of yesterday morning overshadowed an otherwise successful and well received 14th edition of the festival, which previously took place on the Isle of Wight.

A statement from Bestival organiser Rob da Bank and his team says they were “devastated to hear about this tragic news. We continue to support the police in their ongoing investigation and our thoughts and prayers are with all the woman’s family and friends.”

The body of Fletcher-Michie, the daughter of Holby City actor John Michie, was discovered in a wooded area at the edge of the festival site around 1am on Monday 11 September, Dorset police say. A 28-year old man ‘known to Louella’ has been arrested in connection with her death, and is also being questioned on suspicion of supplying illegal drugs.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with all the woman’s family and friends”

Although initially widely reported as being a murder inquiry, Dorset police chief inspector Sarah Derbyshire says the circumstances of Fletcher-Michie’s death are still under investigation. “Detectives are working tirelessly to investigate the full circumstances surrounding this tragic death,” she explains. “A post-mortem examination took place that was inconclusive, and therefore we need to undertake a number of other examinations before we can establish why she died.”

She adds that the body shows “no clear signs of assault”.

John Michie tells The Sun: “It’s not murder – they were friends. It was just a tragic mistake, a tragic accident.”

Acts who played Bestival 2017, which had a daily capacity of 35,000, included The xx, A Tribe Called Quest, Pet Shop Boys, Soulwax, Rag’n’Bone Man and Laura Mvula.


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Rob da Bank, Foals join campaign to save the Cellar

Local bands Foals, Ride and Glass Animals, along with DJ and Bestival founder Rob da Bank, are among those to have signed a new petition opposing the impending closure of the Cellar, one of Oxford’s best-loved independent music venues.

The 150-capacity basement club – established 40 years ago by local promoter Adrian Hopkins and now managed by his son, Tim – is to be turned into a retail space, landlord St Michael’s and All Saints’ Charities announced earlier this week.

In addition to Foals, Glass Animals et al., the Cellar has hosted early-career shows by Mumford & Sons, The xx, Young Knives, Stornoway, Diplo and Friendly Fires, and is recognised as a “pivotal venue in the development of Oxford’s musical history”, according to the petition, which is already close to its 10,000-signature target.

Tim Hopkins comments: “It is devastating news, not just for the Cellar team, but for the Oxford music scene as a whole. The loss of an important cultural asset such as the Cellar is a matter of concern for everyone – not just the music fans and musicians of Oxford. It should be of concern to anyone who cares about jobs, the night-time economy, local creativity and the social community of the city. We appreciate the pressures that may be felt by St Michael’s and All Saints’ Charities, but the aims of the charity are not furthered by losing such a vital local space.

“It’s quite clear that the people of Oxford want the Cellar to stay”

“We would welcome the opportunity to work with St Michael’s and All Saints’ to look at an alternative way to increase their income, if this is their aim, but we have yet to be consulted on this. Working together could led to economic benefits for the charity, and we urge the trustees to pause and consider the wider benefits that a cultural space such as the Cellar brings to the local community.”

Mark Davyd of Music Venue Trust says allowing the conversion of the venue to a shop would be contrary to Oxford City Council’s culture strategy. “We urge St Michaels and All Saints to withdraw their application and work with the Cellar to develop a proposal that protects this important venue,” he comments. “Oxford City Council have a very clear cultural strategy, and converting a fantastic cultural asset like the Cellar into a retail space quite obviously flies in the face of that, as well as the needs of local people.

“It’s quite clear that the people of Oxford want the Cellar to stay, and we hope the charity will recognise this and reconsider their plans.”

IQ revealed earlier this month that publicly funded arts body Arts Council England has allocated just 0.06% of its total funding to popular music venues in its 2018–22 grants.


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The show goes on: UK set for huge weekend of music

It’s business as usual for the UK this long weekend, with British festival fans, refusing to be cowed by the threat of terror, gearing up for three days of live music across the country.

While several concerts, including Take That at the Echo Arena in Liverpool and Blondie at London’s Round Chapel, were called off in the aftermath of Monday’s bombing at Manchester Arena, the majority of events have chosen to continue, with many issuing statements on the importance of carrying on as usual.

Among the events going ahead as planned this weekend are pop-punk festival Slam Dunk, in Birmingham, Leeds and Hatfield; We Are Fstvl in London; Margate WonderlandRadio 1’s Big Weekend in Hull; and Liverpool Sound City, which says it will “not be defeated” by the “cowardice” of the Manchester Arena bomber.

Dot to Dot, which includes a Manchester leg, is also still on – Anton Lockwood of promoter DHP Family told IQ on Tuesday “it didn’t occur to us to cancel” amid a mood of “defiance” in Manchester– as are Happy Days festival in Esher, Surrey, and Bestival’s Common People in Oxford and Southampton.

As in France – where, says Live Nation France head of festivals Armel Campagna, seeing live music has become an act of ‘cultural resistance‘ following the Bataclan attack – many promoters say pushing ahead with their events sends a strong message to enemies of live music.

“The message is: ‘The show will go on'”

In a statement, Manchester festival Parklife – organised by LN-Gaiety-owned The Warehouse Project – says it will go ahead as planned on 10 and 11 June and that, “we will not be defeated by such cowardice”.

“We can’t let these people get us down,” adds Common People/Bestival promoter Rob Da Bank. “The message is: ‘The show will go on.'”

Gary Barlow of Take That, meanwhile – whose postponed Liverpool show will instead take place tonight – called upon the crowd to “sing a little louder, reach a little higher and clap our hands a little harder”:

While much of the discussion around the attack has, understandably, largely focused on the security implications for live music, it bears remembering that the Manchester bomber, Salman Abedi, was, thankfully, unable to gain access to the arena itself.

Speaking to Billboard yesterday, LiveStyle CEO Randy Phillips praised Manchester Arena’s security, saying that “no one can say that venue security wasn’t sufficient”, and expressed his concern that while terrorist attacks remain extremely rare, the abundance of mainstream news coverage “could lead to an exaggerated sense of insecurity among concertgoers”.

One organisation aiming to counter those perceptions is Live DMA, an umbrella body representing associations of venues and festivals in 13 European countries.

“Terrorism can never stop us from making music”

With support from Music Venue Trust in the UK, the association’s venues will tonight at 9.59pm GMT hold a minute’s silence for the victims – followed by ‘One Minute of Noise’ at 10pm.

“Live music is joy and fellowship,” says Live DMA. “We are thousands of venues, festivals and other concert organisers, at thousands of places across Europe, that open our doors for joy, music, freedom and friendship daily – and we will keep them open and let live music go everywhere.

“Our thoughts are with the affected families and our colleagues in the UK live music industry, and we will dedicate our upcoming concerts to the victims of this tragedy, when venues across Europe, together with the audience and artists, will mark the terrorist attack in Manchester with ‘one minute of noise’. Because terrorism can never stop us from making music.”


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Bestival to leave Isle of Wight after 13 years

Bestival is to move to Lulworth Estate in Dorset for 2017, leaving behind its “spiritual home” of the Isle of Wight after 13 years.

The news was announced this morning by festival curator and co-founder Rob da Bank, who says he’s “super-excited about our shiny new Bestival adventure”.

Ticket sales for Bestival 2016, its last on the island, fell to 40,000 – 15,000 under capacity – blamed by da Bank on “more competition” and a “wobbly economy”. He acknowledged following the event that “sound and tent spec was not always what we would have wanted it to be”, but said Bestival would be “back to its very high standards next year”.

Da Bank said this morning Bestival 2017 will have “an incredible line-up, headliners confirmed and ridiculous new stages and installations” at Lulworth Estate, which is also home to sister festival Camp Bestival.

“We remain fully committed to supporting the Isle of Wight through music, charities and projects, and will be giving islanders an exclusive ticket offer for the new site,” he added. “Plus, we’re working towards a new event for the island. Watch this space…”


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Industry throws its support behind UK flare ban

Live Nation, Bestival and industry body UK Music have lent their support to British MP Nigel Adams’ bid to introduce controls over flares and fireworks at concerts and festivals.

Adams, the member of parliament for Selby and Ainsty in Yorkshire and chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Music, which provides a discussion forum between the UK music industry and parliamentarians, seeks to ban the carrying or use of flares, fireworks and smoke bombs by audience members at live music events.

“Safety at live music events is paramount,” comments UK Music CEO Jo Dipple. “Music fans should be protected from risks that could result in significant harm. UK Music strongly supports this legislation and applauds Nigel Adams’ successful campaign.”

“The time is right for the government to act and support organisers in minimising risk and providing a safe and enjoyable environment for everyone attending”

Bestival creator Rob da Bank adds: “As the promoter of a 50,000-capacity festival, audience safety is always at the forefront of event planning, and we would like to see our fans offered the same protection as those attending sporting events. There are increasingly more incidents and the time is right for the government to act and support organisers in minimising risk and providing a safe and enjoyable environment for everyone attending.”

There were 255 incidents involving flares and fireworks in music audiences in 2014 compared to three at football grounds in the same period.

The British government will decide today whether to accept Adams’ amendment to the Policing and Crime Bill. The motion will not seek to ban allowing artists and promoters to use pyrotechnics in their shows.

Melvin Benn, managing director of Live Nation-owned Festival Republic, says: “As we approach festival season, we are hoping to see some decisive action from the government that will keep festival fans safe from dangerous pyrotechnics this summer.”